Bhubaneswar: A four-hour protest called by farmers in Odisha on Tuesday to oppose the government's "apathy" towards the farming sector hit road traffic across the western part of the state for several hours, a protest leader said.
Commercial and passenger vehicles were stranded on national and state highways near all major towns in 11 districts as thousands of agitated farmers squatted on roads at several places between 12 noon and 4 pm.
Farmers also carried out processions and rallies at several places including at the district headquarters town of Bolangir, Sambalpur, Bhabanipatna, Angul and Sundergarh.
They also demonstrated outside government offices.
"It was a symbolic protest to warn the government. If the state and central governments do not pay heed to the plight of the farmers, we will launch a bigger agitation," farmer leader Ashok Pradhan said.
Pradhan is one of the convenors of the Paschim Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanwaya Samiti (POKSSS), which has been fighting to protect the interests of farmers. POKSSS was the organiser of the latest protest.
Pradhan said POKSSS had organised a massive rally at Sambalpur, about 300 kilometres from state capital Bhubaneswar on October 31, seeking several government measures.
"Although we had submitted a 15-point charter of demands to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik through the local authorities, nothing has been done yet", he said.
"We want the government to implement a uniform paddy procurement policy in the state. We want the government to pay Rs 300 bonus per one quintal of paddy," Pradhan said.
The farmers were also seeking assurance from the government that it would not acquire any farm land for industrial purpose.